Online and distance learning is the new kind of education that is growing immensely all over the world. It is the kind of learning that is done over the internet across different countries and even across different continents. Students who want to learn on a flexible schedule, such as professionals already involved in regular jobs, often prefer online learning over the traditional type of classroom and face to face learning which account for the increasing popularity of this kind of educational program.
However, partly because of its fairly early stage of development, online and distance learning has not yet been structured to fit everyone. There are a few basic attributes that one must possess to be better suited at learning through online classes.
The most important characteristic that is needed to succeed in distance education is the ability to stay motivated and focused on a task without the need for external encouragement from others such as a teacher or classmates. An online education student must be able to motivate himself, set his own goals, and track his own progress.
A successful online student should also be very aggressive and very zealous in completing his online assignments and projects. Procrastination will never work well in online and distance education. It is true that online learning lets students work at their own pace and on their own time, which many take to mean that procrastinating is ok. However, this would also mean that several months or even years would probably be added to the total time that the student will need to complete the course.
Another vital characteristic for online and distance education students is very good reading and comprehension abilities. Although there are some lessons that are covered by video lectures, most of the learning will still be through reading a lot of written text. Thus, students who learn best by taking notes in class and asking questions from a lecturer will probably not do well in an online and distance education setting.
Students who want to try online learning should also have a very high sense of focus that enables them to shake off distractions easily. Studying an entire course at home means that there will be a lot of times when family members and children could easily become interruptions in learning. There will also be times that turning on the tv and enjoying the live broadcast of a game could be very alluring. All of these disturbances should be easily filtered out by a student who wants to be successful at completing a course online.
Lastly, online students should also understand that one of the biggest differences between an online class and traditional face to face class is the element of social interaction. Online and distance learning set-ups provide very little of this element because there are no such things as a school dance, a varsity game, or even a student government and elections in this kind of educational program. Online and distance learning students should be able to satisfy this part of education on their own: either by having extracurricular activities outside the online learning structure, or by being able to discuss and expound on what they are learning with their friends and coworkers.